Tuesday, August 5, 2014

When Grandparents Grieve

[Source: Heather, Openphoto]

Sometimes, grandparents are blindsided by the death of a grandchild. 

In The Grief of Grandparents, a brochure produced by The Compassionate Friends, it is dubbed:

A double loss.

Deeply saddened, often angry and frustrated by the circumstances of the death, a grandparent must also helplessly endure their child's mourning. 

[Source]
Whether the grandchild is 2, 12 or 22, the death is a shock.
It is unexpected--and feels unnatural because the "natural" thing would be for a younger generation to outlive you. You've had celebrations, baby's first curl saved in a jar, school photos in frames, confidences shared during phone calls...
[Source]
Kalyn Bailey lost her granddaughter to SIDS, in 2012. The birth of Addison Grace had inspired Kalyn's son to live a healthy and productive life. She still struggles with anger toward God and guilt at her inability to protect her family.

"When you’re the grandparent it’s so very hard. Your world has been ripped apart but at the same time your child’s has been ripped apart even more. You mourn not only the loss of your precious grandchild but also the loss of who your child was before this unspeakable thing happened. I buried part of my son and daughter-in-law the day they buried Addison. And just like her, it will never be back." from Kalyn Bailey's guest post for Still Standing Magazine

[Source
Friends and co-workers of bereaved grandparent may provide support at the funeral, but it is clear that this grief journey "is a marathon not a sprint."
The Condolence Coach recommends:
  • Be available to be a good listener:  make dates for coffee, lunch, a walk, a scenic drive
  • The journal gift described in this post, would be a very thoughtful gesture. The double loss a grandparent is experiencing can find safe release in a journal. Remember my suggestion that you write your condolence note on the first page. 
  • Topics for your note include:
    • Make a caring observation about the grandparent-child relationship.
    • Use the grandchild's name!
    • Share a memory
    • Pose a question about their memories
    • If you too, have grieved a grandchild, how did you cope?
    • Do not give advice, but remind them that their love lives on
  • Make a note of the grandchild's death date and write a caring anniversary note, next year.
Is there someone you should write to--share this post with?  Thanks for caring!

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